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Chapter One of work in progress

The gym was empty and hollow sounding and had been empty for countless months, put out of commission by the fire that had ravaged the upper floor of the school. Straining sunlight tried to penetrate the row of grimy windows that lined the top of the south facing wall but the light was diffuse and weak by the time it hit the court. The thinly shadowed image of tall trees danced on the faded floor bringing movement to the stillness of the room. Basketball hoops were still strung with tired looking yellow rope but were wound up tight against the walls on their brackets, far out of reach of even the professionals who might once have played here as children.
Children, or their ghosts, were a part of this place but Anthony Miller could not feel their presence. Instead he saw the signs of mice and the ravages of time. The varnish that had gleamed brightly was now dull and flaking and the black of water damage was visible in the uneven and wave like rolling of the rotting floor. The fire had not touched this space but the smell of smoke hung over the court still, more subtle and yet still lingering with acrid and rich odor after time had wandered on. There would never be the sound of children at play on this court again. This old school was dead, waiting only for the wrecking crew to come and clean up the spilled memories of youth.
Anthony ran his hands through his long brown hair and wondered why he had bothered to come here at all. There was no happiness in this place for him as he had hoped, only faded memories instead, made more transparent by the changes that time had wrought in him and in this place. Turning his back on the court he headed back into the tiny hallways of the school that had once meant so much and now meant so little; so big to him as a little boy but now so small and crowding in on him as he walked.
Upstairs in classroom 212 he stopped for a moment and let his eyes drift over the empty room. Fire had licked at these walls in the dead of night and the smell was still strong and thick, able to withstand the days and nights that had passed with hardly losing its grasp on the room. He had once passed notes and had his tiny heart soar and be broken in this room. His gawkiness had made him feel unlovable, the girls from the past unable to see the tall man with broad shoulders and chest who would grow up out of this scrawny kid. He would have to wait until high school to find his first true love and first immature heartbreak, the one you never forgot, time be damned. Turning away from these memories as well he made his way down the stairs and out the door he had broken in through. Standing on the crumbling black top of the playground he looked around and shook his head.
“Why am I here?” He asked himself, meaning here in this town more than here at his boyhood school.
There’s nothing here for me anymore, he thought to himself, only dust and faded memories. He had been having that feeling quite a lot lately.
The last thing that he could possibly call really good or happy about this place, this little suburb and its little school and quiet home was gone now and he would bury her in the morning. He had counted this place and his Mother’s place as among the few he could still run to, a safe haven even yet among the storminess of his life. More ports had closed and he felt alone. He turned and walked toward his car, parked in the empty teacher’s lot.
“At least it will be sunny,” He said out loud, looking at the clear sky.
It was bright in the parking lot, the sun a huge yellow ball of fire that shadowed the wrinkles of time in his face, just as the cracked and peeling varnish of the gymnasium floor showed the age lines of his boyhood school.
“At least the sun will shine.” He said.                                                  
                                                                 
Written by thinlane
Published
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